Land of the
By Landy Chase
“They started at
once, and went out among the Lotus-Eaters, who did them no hurt, but
gave them to eat of the Lotus, which was so delicious that those who
ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go
back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and
munching Lotus with the Lotus-Eaters without thinking further of
their return”. -
From The Odyssey,
If you are familiar
with the works of Homer, then you are no doubt familiar with the
story of the Lotus-Eaters. These lazy derelicts were a tribe of
people who lived in ancient times on the North Coast of Africa.
According to the legend, they were fond of eating a type of lotus
petal that induced a perpetual state of apathy, and thus they lived
out their days in happy, listless indolence. In ancient times, both
the Greek and Roman cultures used the expression “to eat the lotus”
to denote laziness.
In our modern
society, it has come to my attention that our culture, also, has
discovered (or rather, manufactured) a food product that seems to
induce exactly the same state of listlessness in certain sales
people as Homer’s infamous lotus. I refer, of course, to the common
breakfast foods such as cruellers, twinkies, and this genre’s
Nuclear Option, the notorious apple-cinnamon bear-claw, are standard
morning fare at sales seminars. Like the legendary Lotus, these
sugary creations cast a zombie-like spell over those poor
individuals who partake of them and, consequently, come under their
sinister influence. As a sales trainer, I have had ample opportunity
to observe, with a measure of pity, the addiction of the poor
The Donut-Eaters are
easy to spot in a room full of seminar attendees. They are about as
interested in improving their business skills as in getting a
root-canal. It’s a safe bet to assume that, were it not for their
boss, they would be doing something else.
transformation takes place in their demeanor, however, when the
sensors in their nasal passages pick up the unmistakable odor of
fried, sugared bread! Previously sullen eyes suddenly light up and
scan the room with a silent, urgent yearning. FREE FOOD! Now,
we have a highly motivated sales person! If only the Donut-eaters
could channel their enthusiasm for the Donut into an enthusiasm for
career success. Instead, they get their fix, return to their seats
and munch away in happy, catatonic solitude.
Surely the most
common complaint that I hear from managers is the frustration that
they experience in trying to motivate their Donut-Eaters. Because
sales people’s performance is directly tied to business production,
Donut-eaters here tend to cause more acute problems than, say,
accounting or inventory management. That said, here are a few
observations regarding management’s role in working with Donut
Your job as a
manager is not to motivate people. Your job is to create a
positive, supportive working environment where motivated people
get the coaching and training that they need to succeed.
Donut Eaters are
not motivated. You therefore cannot get good sales results from
a Donut Eater.
Twenty percent of
sales people in the marketplace have the motivation required to
attain outstanding results. Sixty percent are content just
making a living. The bottom twenty percent are the Donut-Eaters.
This also means
that 80% of all hiring decisions are mistakes.
The best way to
avoid problems with Donut-Eaters is to avoid hiring them. This
is why interviewing skills are critical to your success.
I have to believe
that, somewhere in the Mediterranean, there still exists a lonely,
wind-swept island where people lay like walruses upon a rocky shore,
just as they did in Homer’s time. The only difference is that,
instead of eating Lotus petals, they are gobbling down Krispy Kremes.
Read other articles and learn more about
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]